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Interesting Examples of Portmanteau Words

Neha B Deshpande Jan 23, 2019
Portmanteau is nothing but combining two words to form a completely new word. It was first described by Lewis Carroll in his literature work. Here we describe the story behind the formation of some interesting portmanteau words.

Examples of Portmanteau words in the poem 'Jabberwocky' by Lewis Carroll

slithy = lithe + slimy
chortled = chuckle + snort
mimsy = flimsy + miserable
In literature, 'Portmanteau' is a term that was used by Lewis Carroll in his book 'Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There'. In the poem 'Jabberwocky', he has used examples of portmanteaus, and explained its meaning as Alice questions the meaning of these words.
In travel, a 'portmanteau' is actually a suitcase that opens in two equal halves. This word is formed from the French words 'porter' and 'manteau' (coat). Similarly, a portmanteau word is formed when two words are amalgamated and morphed to create a new word, similar to packing two words in a suitcase.
Today, you'll come across many such examples. While some are grammatically correct words, others have just been created out of slang. Let's check out some interesting examples of portmanteau words, and the history behind their formation.

Bollywood = Bombay + Hollywood

This is one interesting combination, that represents the film industry of Hindi Cinema in India. Mumbai, known as 'Bombay', during the British rule and till the near end of the 20th century, is the hub of the cinema industry of India. Hence, the name came to be known as 'Bollywood'. There are other portmanteaus too, such as Tollywood and Kollywood.

Brunch = Breakfast + Lunch

This is one of the classic examples of portmanteaus. Interestingly, though it is known that it has taken birth from the words 'breakfast' and 'lunch', very little is known about its history, or where the word was first used.
It is believed that it was first used in a British magazine in an article by Mr. Guy Beringer, titled 'Brunch: A Plea', in 1895. The idea was originally created to cure hangovers of Sunday mornings!

Jeggings = Jeans + Leggings

Yes, all those fashion-obsessed people out there know this word. A combination of 'jeans' and 'leggings', this garment has become quite a rage these days. They're tight fitting like leggings, and have denim colors. Just a recent entrant, it has already become a necessary addition to a wardrobe these days.

Emoticon = Emotion + Icon

A popular word in the world of instant messaging, this is a blend of the words 'emotion' and 'icon'. In short, an icon that can display your emotion. The invention of our dear 'smiley' was one of the iconic moments in the world of 'emoticons'.
The smiley was designed by designer Henry Ball. Its use started around the 1990s. However, today, emoticons have a very useful place in our lives, don't they? :)

Brangelina = Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie

This is one of the portmanteau words made to describe the hottest pair in Hollywood: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Well, this term was coined after their relationship become the talk of the whole world; fans and paparazzi alike. Well, Tinseltown has its own portmanteaus too!

Satisficing = Satisfy + Suffice

Well, many of us mistake this word to be actually a valid, grammatically correct word in English. No, it is not. 'Satisficing' is a word coined from the term 'satisfactory' and 'suffice'. It was created by economist Herbert A.
Simon in 1956, who stated that humans are not capable of taking completely rational decisions, and they mostly take decisions that 'satisfice' i.e., that are satisfying sufficiently to their requirements.

Frenemy = Friend + Enemy

'Friends and Enemies', we all have our own 'frenemies'. A frenemy is an enemy who is in disguise of a friend. He will not outright say on your face that he is in competition with you. Its first known use was around the late 1970s.

Infotainment = Information + Entertainment

A blend of information and entertainment, it is one of the commonly used words in the media. Its first known use is around 1980. Channels such as Discovery, History, National Geographic etc., are intended to give us information along with entertainment.

Spanglish/Hinglish/Chinglish, etc. = English Mixed with Another Language

All these are portmanteaus of languages that are blended with English. As the name suggests, Spanglish is a blend of Spanish and English, Hinglish is a combination of Hindi and English, and Chinglish is obviously Chinese and English.

Fanzine = Fan + Magazine

These are magazines created by the fans for other fans who purse the same genre or liking. In short, it is a magazine which is made and circulated by the fans, for the fans, and belongs to the fans.
It is usually done on a non-commercial basis, without any compensation to those who are involved in the making of the magazine. This word was coined by L. Russell Chauvenet in 1940 for a science fiction magazine.

Motel = Motor + Hotel

This word comes from 'Motor' and 'Hotel'. In short, it is a place that provides motor vehicle parking facility along with temporary accommodation facilities. This was originally designed for motorists who needed temporary places. The world's first motel, 'Milestone Mo-Tel', was set up in California, in 1925, is now known as Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo.

Humongous = Huge + Monstrous

Okay, the word sounds silly and funny, but it a result of the amalgamation of two words, 'huge' and 'monstrous', and inspired by the word 'stupendous'. This word originated in the United States as a slang around the 1970s.

Globesity = Globe + Obesity

This word was created by the World Health Organization in 2001. It was formed to create awareness about the increasing rates of obesity around the globe, and the hazardous health impacts of the same.

BASEketball = Basketball + Baseball

This is a movie that came out in 1998, which is a story of two sportsmen who play 'BASEketball', a unique combination of basketball and baseball.

Chrismukkah = Christmas + Hanukkah

This term was made famous by the television show 'The O.C.' in 2003. In this series, the character 'Seth Godin' celebrates this unique festival by blending together festivals of two different religions - Christianity and Judaism.

Cyborg = Cybernetic + Organism

A cyborg is a human with mechanical parts, or any other automated device. This term is highly popular in comics. It was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes. However, today, this term is vaguely used to describe a person who relies heavily on technology.

Liger = Lion + Tiger

A liger is an offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. They usually grow huge in size, and mostly resemble a lion. However, ligers usually suffer from some birth defects.

Frappuccino = Frappé + Cappuccino

This yummy drink is a delicious cold coffee with a thick layer of frothed milk. This term was coined by the Coffee Connection cafe owner George Howell of Boston in 1992, who was in pursuit of a unique drink for his cafe to boost his sales. He later sold the rights of the drink to Starbucks, in 1994.

Skort = Skirt + Short

A 'skirt' and 'shorts', when combined together, make a skort. This appears like a skirt, however, a flap covers the shorts, giving it that kind of appearance. A skort ensures feminine looks, along with comfort, especially suited for sportswomen.

Webinar = Web + Seminar

A mixture of 'web' and 'seminar', that describes a seminar held on the web. Webinars have become quite common in the corporate world today. This word became popular in the late 19th century.
Apart from these examples, there are many other commonly used portmanteau words, such as modem (modulator + demodulator), camcorder (camera + recorder), etc. Like the funny words coined by Lewis Carroll in his poem, you can morph two words to create silly words of your own too. That will be a great idea to teach portmanteau to kids.